Tanzania + 5 more

Displacement, Statelessness and Solutions: A Study on Protracted Refugee Situations in the Great Lakes

Originally published
View original



  • Study a select number of protracted refugee populations in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and DRC and assess their risk of statelessness arising from prolonged exile.

  • Develop recommendations for local integration pathways that mitigate risks of statelessness and ensure the realization of the right to a nationality, including access to legal identity documentation, in support of durable solutions.

  • Inform the development of a comprehensive durable solutions strategy for forcibly displaced persons, including refugees


The Great Lakes sub-region is characterized by a number of protracted refugee situations. In some situations, several generations of refugees have been born in exile in their country of asylum. Statelessness can arise as both a cause and consequence of displacement, particularly for forcibly displaced populations who have spent a prolonged time in exile. In some instances, refugees have lost their ties with their country of origin, are unable to prove their legal ties to their country of origin, or might no longer be considered citizens by their country of origin, and remain without guaranteed access to the citizenship of their country of asylum and thus might be at risk of statelessness.

In the spirit of the 2019 Munyonyo Outcome Document of the 2019 High Level Conference of Ministers in Charge of Refugees in the Great Lakes, this study, undertaken by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) with the support of UNHCR, aims at exploring local integration for refugees. It focuses on those living in protracted situations, for whom voluntary return to the country of origin, or resettlement or complementary pathways to a third country are not viable or available options, and who may also be at risk of statelessness.

The selected pilot countries serving as case studies for this regional research include Tanzania, Uganda, DRC, and Rwanda. Among these pilot countries, a selected number of protracted refugee situations will be studied, who will be further narrowed down based on length of stay in the country of asylum, risks of statelessness, and prospects for durable solutions, including potential for local integration in light of the pledges made at the 2019 High-Level Segment on Statelessness and 2019 Global Refugee Forum. More specifically, these will comprise the following refugee protracted groups whose members have spent more than 10-15 years and above in exile : (i) Congolese refugees in Rwanda, (ii) 1972 Burundian refugees in Tanzania, (iii) Rwandan refugees in DRC, as well as (iv) Congolese and South Sudanese refugees in Uganda.

The 2019 Munyonyo Outcome Document emphasizes that “successful local integration requires legal stay arrangements, freedom of movement of refugees on the national territory in conformity with the law of the host country, and inclusion of refugees in national services and systems (…)” combined with “access to legal identity documentation, including birth registration”.

Findings from the study will inform the implementation of some of the 58 pledges made by the ICGLR Executive Secretariat and the 12 ICGLR Member States at the High-Level Segment on Statelessness and the Global Refugee Forum in 2019. These pledges include important commitments to strengthen data on stateless persons and at-risk of statelessness in the region, and to explore prospects for durable solutions.

The study will help to advance regional and continental initiatives towards achieving the goals of the 2017 Brazzaville Declaration, and its Consolidated Action Plan on the Eradication of Statelessness in the Great Lakes Region; Agenda 2030, particularly Target 16.9. of the Sustainable Development Goals on legal identity and promotes the objectives and spirit of the 2 063 Agenda of the African Union.